Thursday, November 13, 2014

A philosophical basketball preview

Jim Christian doesn't have a set style. He's not married to any offensive or defensive philosophy that he must stringently implement regardless of his players or opponent. Given his talent this year, that's probably a good thing. If he's smart, he will just give the ball to Olivier Hanlan and get out of the way. 

Hanlan is a versatile offensive player with the requisite skills, speed and build to be a great player. He will be the best player on the court in most of BC's games this year. His talent alone should carry the team to 14 wins. But it is not always that simple. Hanlan couldn't carry last year's team to 14 wins. But the reason for my optimism is that I believe Christian is smart enough to put the pieces together and maximize this group of players.

Hanlan as the offense instead of Hanlan within the offense

For all of our frustrations, Steve Donahue ran a consistently efficient offense. The scheme wasn't dependent on any one player and allowed flexibility in tempo that should have enabled BC to compete with anyone. We know it didn't. But not only did the team not win enough, there were many times where it felt like the movement and patience restricted what the players could be. Think of how many first halfs we had where Hanlan was a non-factor. He would start the offense but never see the ball again. He could drive to the basket at will, yet instead we would eat clock looking to move the ball around the perimeter. In this new era I expect Christian to allow the players more freedom. Hanlan can score if it is there. The offense will also start with him driving and creating instead of waiting. The offense won't be as statistically efficient, but the mindset and aggressiveness should help in the win-loss column. 

The other guys will get their moments, but it will be as complimentary players off of pick and rolls or kick outs. And as long as they adapt and understand, they should be fine.

Defense, defense and more defense

Christian is also not some defensive whiz, but we cannot get any worse. There was very little effort or emphasis put on defense in the old regime. Now practices are defensively focused. Now guys like Owens and Brown will get minutes based off of their D. And then there is Dennis Clifford. Even if he will never be what he once was, he hasn't shrunk. Adding a legit 7-footer will impact rebounding and other teams' ability to score in the paint. Clifford wouldn't have been enough to save Donahue's job, but he will make Christian's life easier this season.

Survival instinct

When I was underwhelmed by the Christian hire, I wrote that he feels like a place holder. He's never been anywhere that long and seems like he has limited upside. My thoughts on him haven't really changed, but I think he is the type of guy who will work in this transition year. He's not looking to build something long-term. He doesn't do long-term (he even transferred during his playing days). He's a pragmatic basketball guy who will put the pieces together and install enough basics that our team will be consistently competitive and never terrible. Is that the type of program that will win championships or inspire fans? Probably not, but he's smart enough to keep getting hired. And if he wants to be marketable after BC, then it will be about letting Hanlan, a few transfers and some flawed big men do what it takes.

On the change in attitude and defense alone, I think BC wins 14 games. If Hanlan really gets going we could be .500. If I am wrong about Christian's upside (and even Clifford's upside) then maybe we become a bubble team. Regardless, I just hope for a fun season.


mod34b said...

What makes you think Christian is not a potential BC lifer?

Ha! (but he is a hoops lifer, for sure)

Look at his resume

1983–1985 BU
1986–1988 RI
1988–1989 Australia
1990–1992 Western Kentucky (asst.)
1992–1994 Saint Francis (asst.)
1994–1995 Western Kentucky (asst.)
1995–1996 Miami (asst.)
1996–1999 Pittsburgh (asst.)
2001–2002 Kent State (asst.)
2002–2008 Kent State (HC)
2008–2012 TCU (HC)
2012–2014 Ohio (HC)
2014-present BC (HC)

mod10aeagle said...

This may be his last best opportunity to prove he's capable of building a successful, sustainable program. If BC just becomes another two to three "transition" stint, that's all he'll ever get. Perhaps that's what he wants, but I doubt it.

Hoib said...

This poor guy has a thankless job if there ever was one. W/ this team in this league I hope his transition in 2 or 3 years isn't to the scrap heap. The stakes are high, if in yr 3 he can get us to play 500 ball in conference he will have done a great job. After the disaster of the last 3 years, I feel we are on the brink of becoming permanent ACC cellar dwellars if Christian isn't the answer.

As for Hanlan I can't say that I share your view. To me he's been a guy who excells at filling up the stat sheet, but evaporates at crunch time. I think a great baller is someone who can get it done when it matters most, I haven't seen that from O.

CT said...

Wait. What? That resume says only that he was fortunate enough to climb the ladder. Nothing more. Isn't that what most coaches want?

This is his chance. Stop with the stepping- stone argument.

Geez. Guy has to rebuild. What about his early signees?

Nah, let's judge him in on...

EL MIZ said...

this season is the biggest unknown for a BC basketball team in quite some time. i honestly have no idea what to expect. some thoughts:

-Hanlan came out of nowhere as a freshman and then, as touched on by ATL, was really stymied last year within the system. if he can emerge was one of the better players in the ACC, i'm not sure why at least contending for a spot in March is out of the question
-this will be the most experienced team we've had since Donahue's first team (Reggie Jackson's last year). we will likely start Hanlan (jr), Brown (sr), heckmann (sr), magarity (soph), and clifford (redshirt jr). off the bench we have a handful of seniors as well. if anything, at least these guys have been around the block, know what playing on the road is like, and hopefully will have a chip on their shoulder given how poorly they performed last year.
-Clifford is question mark number 2. if he is healthy our front line has a chance to be decent, as Magarity has apparently improved this offseason. after those 2, we have a freshman (Diallo) and Caudill. i'll leave it at that.
-i'm also confused about this "Christian will only be here a few years" meme. he was at Kent State for 6 years. not sure why he left for TCU ($ probably). regardless, this team likely is 500 or less this year. what better job is he going to find in 2-3 years? also, given the way he has been recruiting, taking some big swings (and misses), it seems like he wants to bring some talent into the program. if anything, this seems like the ideal job for a guy like Christian - he is from Long Island and played college ball in New England, he is in a major conference for the first time, he has no real pressure to win. i would be shocked if he wasn't here for whatever the duration of his contract is. maybe it doesn't work and he's gone after that initial term, but i don't see him coaching with one foot out the door.

i am reluctant to be optimistic after the failures of the Donahue era. i'd be pleasantly surprised if we were .500 this year, and if we somehow wound up contending for a spot on the bubble i'd be shocked.

mod10aeagle said...

Looking forward to tonight's game on ESPN3!

Hario said...

Def an unknown season -

We are bringing back a 8 team win that lost its second and third best player to transfers -- hard for me to imagine them winning more than 10 games this year

then again team underachieved last year and we have no idea what kinda coach Xtian will be

if they won 14 games id be pleasantly surprised - anything more would be a complete shock

thing to watch this season really is to see if they overachieve under xtian- could give a hint at how long it will take to get the bball program to being competitive

Hoib said...

Can't find it on espn3, did they pull it ?

Hoib said...

Finally was able to watch, and I wasn't impressed. I think we'll be lucky to match last years win total. We will be better on D, if Clifford stays healthy, but worse on O. We have no inside scoring. I think we will see a steady dose of tight man to man, w/ lots of help on O when he takes it to the hoop, forcing him to give it up, knowing that we have no inside finishers. Hope I'm wrong, but that's how I see it.